At just 11 years old, Charlotte’s Sloane Letourneau will kick off the final day of Circle K’s Speed Street presented by Coca-Cola. It’ll likely be the biggest crowd he’s performed in front of, although previous gigs wouldn’t necessarily be considered intimate.
His first time on stage at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, where he’s in fifth grade, he played “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a student body of 500.
“I was more nervous than he was,” says his dad, Darrell Letourneau. “I told him to just look at his guitar.”
While many kids would shrivel in front of a large crowd, Letourneau thrives on performing. Over the last three years, he’s played Comet Grill with guitar instructor and longtime Charlotte music fixture, Lenny Federal; done full solo sets at Birdsong Brewing; and has upcoming dates booked at NoDa Brewing and the South Carolina State Fair.
In January, he ripped through “Johnny B. Goode” in front of 1,200 at Knight Theater at the Tosco Music Party. His dexterity on the instrument may come as a surprise considering his age, but Letourneau has been playing for five years.
“The first year, I didn’t practice a lot,” he says, squeezing in an interview at Caribou Coffee in Foxcroft between school and his guitar lesson. “Year two is when I really started practicing, after that first recital.”
With big, innocent blue eyes, a sweep of hip blondish hair, a memorable name, and an awareness of what he needs to do to pursue a career at his age, Letourneau seems like he could very well be a star.
His tastes range from mainstream pop like 5 Seconds of Summer to rock bands like Sum 41, Bon Jovi and Van Halen, who his parents took him to see two years ago.
He added singing to his act, and three years ago he caught the attention of a local talent agency that sent him to Orlando to a showcase. From there, he signed with a Los Angeles-based agent (the same one as his favorite multi-hyphenate Disney star, Ross Lynch, who played Austin on Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally” and performs guitar and vocals with his siblings in the band R5).
And now – between playing travel baseball, guitar and vocal lessons, homework, and taping auditions on the weekend – the entire family’s schedule is full.
He and his parents – both accountants with no prior stage-parenting experience – spent last summer in Los Angeles, and he’ll return for five weeks this summer to attend Camp Hollywood and go on auditions.
“The big thing is to get his name out there,” explains his mother, Kimberly. “And to see if he likes it.”
Last week, he and his father made a quick trip to L.A. after he got a callback that required an in-person audition (he usually records auditions from home). His classmates assumed he was home sick.
“They know what I’m up to,” he says. “They just don’t believe it.”
When: Noon Saturday.
Where: Mello Yello Stage, on the corner of Tryon and Stonewall streets at uptown’s Speed Street festival.